Last Thursday, December 14th, the lecture of Fr. Heikki Huttunen (Orthodox Church of Finland) inaugurated the series of online lectures “The liturgy after the liturgy”, which is organized by the Holy Metropolis of France (Ecumenical Patriarchate) in collaboration with the Volos Academy for Theological Studies. The lecture was prefaced by the director of Volos Academy, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, and the event was moderated by archpriest Fr. Serge Sollogoub, rector of the church of St John the theologian in Meudon, near Paris.
Introducing the series of online events, Pantelis Kalaitzidis, after thanking the co-organizers, analyzed the concept of “the liturgy after the liturgy”, which was first proposed, already in 1963, by the current Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios Yannoulatos, being systematized and further promoted by the Romanian priest and executive of the World Council of Churches, Fr. Ion Bria, emphasizing the need to extend the Eucharistic act outside the boundaries of the temple and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Pantelis Kalaitzidis reminded that a similar perception seems to have been expressed by the great theologian of the Russian Diaspora, Paul Evdokimov (1901-1970), when he argued that “the Liturgy needs to be extended into a liturgy outside the walls, which every believer performs as a ‘priest’ of his own existence. And his existential testimony will prove whether the Liturgy was really accepted”. In this perspective, according to Archbishop Anastasios, “the Liturgy is not an escape from life, but a continuous transformation of life according to the prototype of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Spirit,” while the continuation of the Liturgy in life means “continual reorientation and openness toward insights and efforts aimed at liberating human persons from all the demonic structures of injustice, exploitation, agony, loneliness, and at creating real communion of persons in love.”
Taking the floor, Fr. Heikki Huttunen spoke about the history of the Orthodox Church in Finland, its long-term survival often under adverse conditions and the influence of the Eucharistic renewal since the 1970s. Quoting Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis, he emphasized that “in the Eucharist, baptized Christians become a community of people who unite prayer with action, praise with justice, adoration with transformation, and contemplation with social involvement.” In this spirit, the Orthodox Church of Finland approaches immigrants and refugees, among whom the approximately 60,000 refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine have a particular place; of equal importance are the refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, the Eritrea and Ethiopia but also from Russia itself, many of whom are forced to migrate due to their ethnic origin, their sexual orientation and of course the wars. The attitude of the Finnish Orthodox Church is focused on welcoming, getting acquainted and including the newcomers in its activities, incorporating them in parishes that are de facto multilingual and multinational, and not excluding from its approach the culturally Orthodox and the converts, as well.
The recording of the event is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ae62zV_mWg (in French).
The next event of the series will take place on January 25, 2024, and it will be the lecture of Athanasios N. Papathanasiou (Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Synaxis”) on the topic “The issue of social justice to the Fathers of the Church”.